Confessions of a Smart Wrestling Fan by Lorcan Mulla
Review / October 31, 2019

Lorcan Mullan has been a fan of the wild, unpredictable and unique world of professional wrestling for over twenty years. This book continues on from his hit solo stand-up comedy show in providing a personal history of life as a obsessive in the wild, bizarre and unique world of pre-determined tussles. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t hold out much hope when I read the description, but it’s actually tremendous. I don’t know how many non-wrestling fans would actually stick with it all the way through (as opposed to seeing a one-hour show version), but I genuinely can’t imagine any wrestling fan in their forties or younger, particularly based in the UK, not enjoying it. You’ll either enjoy the nostalgia, learn about being a fan “back in the day”, repeatedly recognise yourself in the book, or some combination of the three. There’s enough of the “here’s what happened in wrestling/here’s what happened in my life” to make it more interesting that a bunch of old Scott Keith reviews, but not so much that it becomes clunky. It’s the closest thing to a wrestling version of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. It covers everything from Hogan-Warrior to Cena-Punk, but it’s a…

To Be The Man by Ric Flair
Review , Uncategorized / October 30, 2019

As a wrestler biography, this is OK. But as a biography of one of the biggest names of his generation, this is a huge letdown. A WWE publication, the content of this book is fine. It’s ghostwritten by WWE’s Keith Elliot Greenberg and edited by wrestling columnist Mark Madden, so for the most part it reads smoothly and is free from obvious lies or exaggeration (with a few exceptions such as the claim to have wrestled Rick Steamboat 2,000 times.) The problem is the scope. The book tries to tell the story of a 30+ year headlining career in fewer pages than were allocated to the autobiography of Lita. While most of the career highlights are covered, there’s not a great deal of depth and few long-time fans will learn much. The formatting works well. Flair’s recollections are interspersed with lengthy quotes from other sources, giving a more rounded view. The writers have also erred towards putting in extra detail and context at the expense of staying true to Flair’s voice. One potential downside is that the book does come across as biased towards WWE’s head personnel and against WCW management. That may very well reflect Flair’s true opinions, but…

Release Schedule (30 October)
Release Schedule , Uncategorized / October 30, 2019

5 November: WWE: Then Now Forever Vol. 4 by Dennis Hopeless and Brent Schoonover 22 November: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences by Benjamin Litherland 26 November: Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Liberty by Glenn Jacobs 29 November: GLOW: Vs The Star Primas by Tini Howard 1 December: #WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age (The Year’s Work) 4 December: Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage (Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies) by Eero Laine 28 January 2020: Smackdown Town by Max Nicoll & Matt Smith 6 February: Maximilian and the Curse of the Fallen Angel (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures) by Xavier Garza 17 February: Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle, Second Edition by Sharon Mazer 17 March: WWE Beyond Extreme by Dean Miller 31 March: Under the Black Hat: My Life in the Wwe and Beyond by Jim Ross 3 April: New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist by New Jack (This is still listed as a 30 October 2019 release in the UK.) 28 April: The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of André the Giant by Bertrand Hebert & Pat Laprade 19 May: WWE Kicking Down Doors: Female Superstars Are…

Sailor White by Dave Elliott
Review / October 28, 2019

While the title may not be familiar to many readers, some may know the subject best as Moondog King, a short-lived WWWF tag team champion in 1981. That title run and its unfortunate conclusion is addressed from the outset of the book and later highlighted as the turning point of Edward White’s life. After working for several Canadian territories, he won the WWWF titles with Moondog Rex. Only a couple of months into the reign he attempted to return to the US after an unscheduled trip home to Montreal but was refused entry by border guards. It’s not entirely clear from the book whether this was because he had no working visa, had a criminal record that came to light, or both. Either way, that was the end of his WWWF run and he was replaced in the team. The rest of his career was split between overseas dates and a decline into drug addiction and even trafficking. While White’s was certainly an eventful life, and the book is well-written, it’s main drawback is that no one aspect of the book really stands out in depth. There’s some insight into his wrestling career and his personal life is covered but…

Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D. – The Reality of Amy Dumas by Amy Dumas
Review / October 25, 2019

Ludicrously overblown title aside, this is one of the better WWE-published autobiographies, despite Lita coming along in the post-territorial era. She had an interesting life before and outside wrestling, told in this 2003 publication, written while she was out of action with a neck injury. Those who sat through her protracted Hall of Fame induction speech may feel they’ve heard many of the stories before, but it still makes for an amazing tale: fascinated by seeing Rey Mysterio and fellow luchadors on Monday Nitro, but with no idea how to get into the business, she simply flew down to Mexico City and began hanging around the lucha venues until she persuaded CMLL staff to give her some basic training.  From there she covers her brief independent career and her time in ECW, where she tells a great story about tapping out Chris Chetti in a hotel room grappling session (albeit once in many attempts) and Chetti being terrified of word getting back to his trainer Taz. Her initial WWE run is well-covered as well, but there’s just as much about her non-wrestling activities, be they getting breast enhancement surgery, taking part in gameshows including Fear Factor, volunteering with animal centers,…

Bodyslams! by Gary Michael Capetta
Review / October 24, 2019

If you’re thinking the autobiography of a ring announcer doesn’t sound an enticing prospect, think again. Capetta — who spent more than 20 years announcing for the WWWF and WCW — probably saw more matches live then anyone else during his prime. He’s also got a lot of stories from life on the road and isn’t shy of sharing them. The early sections of the book are fascinating, detailing Capetta’s transition from fan to WWWF employee, much of which involved bluster and blagging. Newer WWE fans will also learn a lot about the company’s setup in the 1970s with regional promoters running weekly shows in smaller venues and booking their own storylines. The backstage stories are also great. The book includes a lengthy recollection of which wrestler crossed a young trainee who later became the Undertaker — and how he eventually paid for it. There’s some great insight into how the stresses of life on the road on European tours led to some unwelcome experiences for Bill Dundee, Mr Hughes and PN News. And there’s even a detailed ear-witness account of the infamous Sid vs Arn Anderson brawl in Blackburn. Reading the book you’ll also learn what it’s like to…

Pile Driver by Kenneth R Boness
Review / October 23, 2019

It is truly wonderful that a book such as this could be written and published. But it would be unfair to say everyone needs to read it. Pile Driver is a biography of 1920s and 30s wrestler Charles “Midget” Fischer, a grappler who stood 5’3″ and thus mainly competed in lower weight divisions, claiming versions of both the world light-heavyweight and middleweight titles. While not as widely known as the heavyweights of the era, he has a historical claim to fame by reportedly creating what we now know as the piledriver in a 1931 bout. Author Kenneth R Boness, who hails from the same tiny Wisconsin village of Butternet as Fischer, clearly put an immense effort into researching the book. Running more than 700 pages, it’s largely based on newspaper reports of the time, many of which are reprinted in full. This brings the benefit that the book is utterly comprehensive about Fischer’s in-ring career and elements of his personal life. The downside is that, by his own admission, Boness decided it was simplest to tell the “straight” story rather than address the issue of whether and (more realistically) how Fischer was involved in working finishes and programs. The focus of the book is…

Release Schedule (23 October)
Release Schedule / October 23, 2019

5 November: WWE: Then Now Forever Vol. 4 by Dennis Hopeless and Brent Schoonover 22 November: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences by Benjamin Litherland 26 November: Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Liberty by Glenn Jacobs 29 November: GLOW: Vs The Star Primas by Tini Howard 1 December: #WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age (The Year’s Work) 4 December: Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage (Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies) by Eero Laine 28 January 2020: Smackdown Town by Max Nicoll & Matt Smith 6 February: Maximilian and the Curse of the Fallen Angel (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures) by Xavier Garza 17 February: Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle, Second Edition by Sharon Mazer 17 March: WWE Beyond Extreme by Dean Miller 31 March: Under the Black Hat: My Life in the Wwe and Beyond by Jim Ross 3 April: New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist by New Jack (This is still listed as a 30 October 2019 release in the UK.) 28 April: The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of André the Giant by Bertrand Hebert & Pat Laprade 19 May: WWE Kicking Down Doors: Female Superstars Are…

Hey Boy! Where’d You Get Them Ears by Paul Boesch
Review / October 22, 2019

This is one of the few out-of-print books that is worth tracking down. Boesch, the promoter in Houston for 20 years, was keen on sharing the lessons of wrestling history, in particular encouraging Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer to attend the Cauliflower Alley Club at a time when “outsiders” were rarely seen at the events. He continues these efforts in a book that’s part history of the US business, part autobiography. The book itself has quite this history: Boesch circulated a first draft manuscript among a few trusted friends including Meltzer and Jim Cornette that was reportedly far more critical of some wrestling figures, notably Vince McMahon. The finished version, published 13 years after his death, was somewhat toned down. It was never available through mainstream book retailers, but Boesch’s widow sold copies at events such as Cauliflower Alley (where I picked up my copy.) The book is a perfect example of how the kayfabe issue can be a red herring in wrestling books. At no point does Boesch question the legitimacy of match outcomes, but it’s an easy task to read between the lines when it comes to points he makes about booking and similar issues. While the…